The Rangers held on for a 4-3 win on Monday night to snap a three-game losing streak, but they almost squandered a three-goal lead against a team they routinely beat.
Mats Zuccarello and Oscar Lindberg scored first-period power-play goals to get New York rolling.
Chris Kreider and Derick Brassard also had goals and New York improved to 18-1-0 in its last 19 meetings with Carolina. The Rangers have won 11 straight against the Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.
Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves.
"A win is always big, even though it's not perfect," Lundqvist said. "It's something you can build on. The finish was more important than the start."
The Rangers settled down late in the third period to preserve the victory and avoid their first four-game losing streak since February of 2011.
"It always feels pretty good to win," Brassard said. "That's the only thing that mattered. You can't really criticize a win, but you can always improve and learn from it."
Jordan Staal, Victor Rask and Chris Terry scored for the Hurricanes. Carolina battled back from a 4-1 deficit late in the second period.
"Obviously, we need to get wins," Eric Staal said. "We need points. We are finding ways to let them slip away. We have to find a way to pick up the win, and crawl our way back into the mix."
The Rangers struck early and late with in the opening period for a 2-0 lead.
Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce tripped Rick Nash at 1:04, and it took the Rangers only 5 seconds to cash in. Zuccarello drilled a shot over Cam Ward from the top of the left circle to extend his points streak against Carolina to 11 games.
Lindberg doubled the Rangers advantage with 1:37 left, whipping a one-timer past Ward from the slot off a cross-ice feed from Dan Boyle.
Both teams got two goals in the second period, and Ward was his own worst enemy as the Hurricanes tried to battle back.
Jordan Staal put Carolina on the board at 1:40 from the slot by deflecting a backhand feed from Andrej Nestrasil.
Ward gave it right back. Kreider beat him from a sharp angle at the bottom of the right circle only 44 seconds later.
In frustration and anger, Ward smashed his goal stick against the right post.
Kevin Hayes took a tripping penalty with 6:17 left in the second, and the Hurricanes nearly scored when Justin Faulk hit the post. Instead, New York killed the penalty, and Hayes skated out of the box, picked off Ward's clearing attempt and set up Brassard's goal with 4:11 left.
Carolina coach Bill Peters refused to pin the loss on Ward. He felt there were more culprits than his goaltender.
"We didn't have enough guys going and we weren't good enough in a lot of areas," Peters said. "Just too many mistakes. We were hit and miss, hot and cold throughout the game."
Rask scored with 2:01 left, and then Terry made it 4-3 8:23 into the third by sliding the puck under Lundqvist on a semi breakaway.
NOTES: Rangers center Derek Stepan will miss four to six weeks because of broken ribs. New York coach Alain Vigneault made the announcement following the morning skate. New York recalled forward Jayson Megna from Hartford of the AHL. ... C Jordan Staal played in his 200th game for the Hurricanes. ... Carolina's lone scratch was D Michal Jordan. The Rangers scratched Megna and D Dylan McIlrath. ... Celebrities at the game included actress Susan Sarandon and Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. ... Rangers D Kevin Klein suffered an abdominal muscle strain in the first period and did not return.